In part 1 of this series, I recommended that before you or your website designer begin designing your website, you understand who your target customer is. What type of a website will appeal to them? Should your site have a fun and creative feel or should it look trustworthy and serious? Are you working with an existing brand that you need to integrate your website into or do you have free creative license to design it completely from scratch? Whether you’re building your own site, working with a designer or you simply want to understand what constitutes good design for a website, here are some basic tips:
10 Basic Tips to Website Design
- Keep your website clean and simple.
- Use colors sparingly.
- Use fonts sparingly.
- Optimize your photos and graphics to load quickly
- Maintain plenty of “whitespace” to keep your pages uncluttered.
- Don’t make visitors scroll to see important information.
- Keep your navigation simple.
- Maintain a consistent look & feel to each page of your website.
- Keep your content relevant.
- Focus on 1 main point for each page of your site.
Studies suggest that you have 3 seconds to grab your website visitor’s attention. If your site is difficult to read or confusing, your visitor will leave your site. If the page they land on doesn’t have the content they’re looking for, they’ll leave your site. So, how can you design your site to visually engage your visitors?
For starters, try sticking to no more than 3 colors and remember that dark text on a light background is generally easiest on your eyes. As for fonts, many designers choose one Sans Serif font type (such as Arial or Verdana) and stick to it throughout their site. Also, don’t feel you need to fill up the entire page. Visitors won’t know where to look if your website pages are too cluttered. Proper use of whitespace helps to guide their attention to where you want them to look.
Try to not confuse your website visitors. Once they’ve landed on your site, they’ll look around and get the “lay-of-the-land“. They’ll figure out where your navigation menu is, where to look for content, how to contact you, search, etc. A consistent look and feel to your site prevents them from having to figure this all out again when they go to another page.
5 Key Components to a Website Page
- Logo/Colors: Your website is part of your brand identity. If you already have printed marketing materials (and have no compelling reasons to change them), then you probably already have a color scheme and logo. Building brand recognition dictates keeping your identity consistent across all of your marketing efforts.
- Navigation: Your website navigation has to be easy to use and easy to find. Not all of the pages from your website need to be part of your main menu. You can link to new pages or use sub-menus. Larger sites often add site maps for additional navigation.
- Content: “Content is King!” – Personally, I’ve heard this comment so many times that I’m tired of hearing it. However, it’s true. Visitors will go to your website because they need something. It could be information, something they want to buy or simply entertainment but they are there for a reason. Fill that need or they’re gone. If you know your target customer, you should know their “lingo” – the words/phrases they’re searching on. Knowing and using the keywords that your visitors relate to is critical to both being found (showing up in the search results) and keeping your visitors on your site long enough to get them to do whatever it is you want them to do.
- Footers: Footers (located at the bottom of your page) usually contain copyright, contact & legal info as well as links to main sections of your site. There’s a new trend by companies with larger sites to utilize this area to include expanded navigation and content such as blogrolls and linkrolls (links to recommended blogs & links).
- Whitespace: Whitespace or negative space refers to areas of your page that does not have text, graphics or photos. Using whitespace carefully helps to keep your visitors from being overwhelmed by too much content.
To sum it up, cohesive design helps people feel comfortable. Good content makes them feel that they’re on the right website. Professionalism helps them trust you. A great book that I highly recommend reading is “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug. It has great examples of what to do and what not to do when it comes to designing, redesigning or tweaking a website.
I hope this series of articles has raised as many questions as it has answered. I can say with confidence that as long as you’re in business, you’ll never be completely “done” with your website. There will always be ways to improve your site. There will always be changes to the way people find you and the way search engines deliver their results. Questions? Comments? Thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.